Jones Slays Welsh Dragons
12:32pm, Sun 30th Mar 2014
Woking 2 Wrexham 1
The Skrill Premier
29th March 2014
Joey Jones’ neatly-taken finish shortly after half-time sealed all three points for Garry Hill’s men in an, at times, cagey encounter, but one they found themselves largely dominating.
Woking’s early pressure paid off with Scott Rendell bagging his 14th goal of the season in all competitions. A swift counter-attack saw Jack Marriott’s lobbed effort fall kindly at the feet of Rendell at the far post, leaving the frontman to slot home from six yards out for an easy opener. Before Woking could build on their early lead, however, Wrexham struck back just two minutes later through Johnny Hunt’s scrappy equaliser, to level the scores at one a piece.
Both teams entered the game level on 51 points but today’s result saw the Cards leap-frog their opponents into 16th and inch a step closer to the elusive final play-off place.
Garry Hill’s men lined up in a similar 4-4-2 formation to that against Luton with Jones replacing the suspended Josh Payne as the anchor in midfield. He and Keiran Murtagh provided service for in-form strike duo Rendell and Marriott with Kevin Betsy and John Goddard providing the width. The centre half pairing of Mark Ricketts and Joe McNerney proved hard to break down with Newton and Nutter slotting in either side, ahead of number one Aaron Howe in the Woking goal.
Despite having not been in league action for twelve days following their emphatic 1-0 win away at table-toppers Luton, the Cards went into today’s game as the in-form side, boasting three wins home and away in their last three Skrill Premier matches. Wrexham, however, who in previous seasons had been challenging strongly for a promotion place, now find themselves not only in a dismal 17th place with only three away wins since Christmas, but with manager Kevin Wilkin in only his second game in charge of the Dragons.
The home team started extremely brightly and should have been a goal to the good after only three minutes when Marriott's clever cut-back found Murtagh on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Woking midfielder could only sky the ball high over the bar into the neighbouring gardens. Marriott's and Rendell’s early link-up play was proving more than a handful for the Wrexham back four and there was another opportunity for the opening goal when a John Goddard counter-attack wound up with Marriott's half-volley attempt being tipped over the Wrexham crossbar.
There was no doubt that Woking were continuing their impressive league form from twelve days earlier at Luton as they pressed for the opening goal and they were rewarded when they took the lead on twenty minutes as Rendell slotted home Marriott's shot-cum-cross at Andy Coughlin’s far post.
This was just the boost the Cards needed to build on an already positive start. But almost immediately after the re-start, the visitors were back on level terms when a Dean Keates free-kick produced a good first save from Aaron Howe, only for the second ball to be turned into the Woking keeper’s net by Wrexham’s Johnny Hunt. An equaliser, somewhat against the run of play, took the wind completely out of Woking’s sails and breathed life into a newly revitalised Dragons’ side as half-time loomed.
Just before the interval, there was an unforeseen blow for the home side as Howe pulled up inside his own box clutching his knee and was replaced by Sam Beasant.
Half-time: Woking 1 Wrexham 1
A perfectly poised game at half-time set up a potentially enthralling second forty-five minutes.
Garry and Steve had clearly reinvigorated the home team at the break and they regained the lead just before the hour mark. The Wrexham defence failed to clear a corner and Betsy’s blocked attempt from the edge of the box fell to Yeovil loanee Joey Jones just inside the box. The youngster swivelled cleverly and coolly buried his shot into the corner of the net.
Now 2-1 up and in the ascendency, Woking pushed for a third to put the match to bed. Murtagh and Cards' Player of the Month John Goddard posed more of an attacking threat, Goddard’s Ronaldinho-esque flick over a Wrexham defender and subsequent volley would have been a shoo-in for goal of the season had his shot nestled in Coughlin’s net.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Garry Hill changed his tactics to try and see the game out at 2-1. The introduction of Brett Johnson as a third central defender and Gez Sole on the left of a midfield four gave Woking a new look 5-4-1 formation as the game drew to a close. There was to be no late drama as Giuseppe Sole, on his 250th Woking appearance, rattled the crossbar with his right-footed free-kick, as he capped off an overall accomplished display by the Woking players.
This was a testing game for the Cards in which they prevailed over the Skrill Premier’s Welsh representatives, dominating large chunks of the game and looking particularly dangerous on the counter-attack at times. Not a game for precision passing on a bobbly playing surface, Woking capitalised on their opportunities and that was ultimately the difference.
Another three points sees the Cards victorious in their last four games and they entertain Forest Green Rovers at Kingfield on Tuesday April 1st in search of a fifth successive league win.
Woking: Aaron Howe (Sam Beasant 43), Adam Newton, John Nutter, Mark Ricketts (c), Joe McNerney, Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh, Scott Rendell, John Goddard, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 75), Joey Jones (Brett Johnson 81)
Unused Subs: Mike Cestor, Reece Beckles
Goals: Scott Rendell 20, Joey Jones 57
Cautions: John Goddard 79
Wrexham: Andy Coughlin, Stephen Wright, Neil Ashton, Danny Livesy, Joe Clarke, Jay Harris, Andy Bishop (Brett Ormerod 79), Dean Keates (c), Jonny Hunt, Bradley Reid (Joe Anyinsah 66), Mark Carrington
Unused Subs: Joslain Mayebi, Steve Tomassen, Dave Artell
Goal: Johnny Hunt 21
Bookings: Stephen Wright 90
My MOTM: Joey Jones - a commanding performance in the Woking midfield topped off with the winning goal